The Reign were back in action last night, this time facing off against the San Jose Barracuda for the first time this season. Opening celebrations done with and one home win under their belt, the Reign were back to business.
That was evident when 1:07 into the first period, the Reign scored. With help from Troy Grosenick
who grabbed a shot from Andrew Crescenzi for what should have been a save. Looking like he expected a quicker whistle, he dropped the puck. Into the net. Intentions aside, it was a good goal and got the Reign off on the right foot. They would go on to dominate the rest of the period, controlling play, possession and forcing the Barracuda to take only five low percentage shots. At the other end, the Reign fired 11 more shots at Grosenick & a goal-mount scramble had the trainer out to talk to him. He stayed in for the rest of the period, but Aaron Dell replaced him in net at the beginning of the second.
The Barracuda came out stronger in the second, managing the throw 10 shots at Peter Budaj while spending more time in the offensive zone. Budaj was back on his game, however, and turned them all away.
A power play four minutes into the third gave the Reign the opportunity to put some buffering on their one goal lead. This time it was Adrian Kempe with his first goal of the season off of a feed from Sean Backman. Dell would get pulled with 2:30 left in the game, but they couldn’t get anything past Budaj. The empty net goal by Michael Mersch sealed the game & the Reign moved to 5-0 on the season.
Impressive: Peter Budaj had a great answer for his shaky play on Friday night. He let very few rebounds out, pucks sticking to him like glue, and never once seemed out of place. He was rewarded with his third shutout of the season. In stats terms, he now has a save percentage of .955 with a goals against average of 0.98.
Elsewhere in the Division: Bakersfield traveled down to San Diego for their sixth game and second win. It was San Diego’s first loss of the season and left the Reign the only undefeated team in the league for at least the next five days. The game featured a line brawl during the final period. San Antonio hosted Stockton, handing them a 5-1 loss. Texas journeyed up to Iowa for their own 3-2 loss.
Odd: Looking at the standings page is odd now. St John’s has 11 points, the most in the AHL, but they are second in the Eastern Conference on the basis of their winning percentage. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Bridgeport and Ontario all have 10 points, but Ontario leads the league with a 1.00 winning percentage while Bridgeport sits at 4th in the Eastern Conference. It’s a new paradigm.